Why every day that passes without a solution is not good for Comprehensive Immigration Reform? We have a solution!

by Rehan Alimohammad

The Senate Bill was comprehensive and monstrous to say the least about the 844 page bill. The House comprehensive bill has not been introduced yet and unfortunately every day that goes by is another nail in the coffin for CIR. President Obama is now saying he is “open” to a tougher bill from the House, but not addressing the approximately 12 million illegals is a non-starter. Every day that passes allows the rift in the House on this issue to get deeper. With an immigration bill needing to either go through the Immigration Subcommittee, where piecemeal bills have already been introduced, or go directly for a vote, which would likely cost Speaker Boehner his job, CIR is at a crossroads.

Senator Rubio recently stated correctly that the Senate proposal would not pass the House. It seems the major point of disagreement will be what to do about the illegal immigrants in the U.S. What is seen by some as fixing a problem is seen by others as rewarding law-breakers.

So what’s the solution? For President Obama to call a meeting of key leaders from the House and Senate? That could probably push them further away, making some feel that the President is meddling in the Congressional process. How about a meeting between key leaders of the Senate and House, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Immigration Subcomittee Chairman Trey Gowdy? I think this could work, with one addition: a discussion of changing the physical presence requirement and a hearing on the possible infusion of tax revenue from applicants under a law that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal and possibly legal permanent residents. Right now, the Senate Bill proposes to allow those who have been here since December 31, 2011 to apply, assuming they meet the other requirements. That was a surprise since even deferred action required at least 5 years of presence. Pushing back the date to say 2008 would greatly reduce the number that would qualify, while still solving the bulk of the problem. The people who arrived after that could get some other status but maybe not legal permanent residence. And, maybe an increase in the number of years from 3 years to file for citizenship to 7 or 10 years?

Many of my colleagues have stated that people should start preparing 2-3 years of tax returns because they are confusing the 3 year deadline of claiming a tax refund with how far back a person can go to file a return. As a CPA as well, we have filed returns as far back as 2000 for those who have not filed. The Senate Bill states that all tax liability should be resolved. For those who have been here for many years, the revenue from previous income along with interest and penalties, could be a boon for the economy. A hearing on the potential of this windfall could boost the chances of sufficient support for the bill.

As an immigration attorney, I obviously want to help as many people as possible, and proposing changes where the number permanently helped would decrease goes against my heart, but for the sake of fixing the system before it is too late, maybe it is best. Remember, campaigning for the 2014 election is just around the corner. If the past tells us anything, it is that when an election comes up, immigration reform definitely will not happen too close to one, and then promises will be made to fix it right after one. And we have heard this promise too often.

About The Author

Rehan Alimohammad, and Attorney and CPA, is the Partner in charge of Immigration and Tax Matters at Alimohammad & Zafar, PLLC and has written over 200 articles on immigration topics in community papers. He has also given over 100 seminars on immigration topics and has a bi-weekly radio show on 1460 A.M. in Houston, Texas discussing the latest in immigration developments and answering immigration questions. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in Austin, and his law degree in 2001 from the University of Houston.

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